Pen vs. Keyboard & Other Journaling Thoughts
There are no rules to journal writing. There just can't be! Journals are a free zone for thoughts, creativity, dreams, fears, closure, and more. They are boundless and therefore, also, ruleless! However...I do have some suggestions that can make your journal writing a bit more fulfilling. You don't have to take these suggestions, but I offer them for two reasons: 1) I've seen it all! And want you to get the most from your journal experience and 2) There are a few things you might not think about. Suggestion #1: Use pen & paper and not your computer/phone/tablet/typing device
This may be a bit controversial because online journal programs make it so easy for you to start journaling. And I don't discount the value they have. My blogging is a form of online journaling and I wouldn't change that. But when it comes to personal journaling - putting the roots that make up who you are out there - I am a stickler for pen and paper. I even created a whole journal series around it!
We live most of our life online these days. Letters are now email. Photo albums happen in real time with Instagram. I even work from the comfort of my dining room table because of the internet. So give me this one. Keep your journal sacred. Make it the one place in your life you connect with just yourself, pen and paper. It's a very freeing experience to see your words come through your pen. To find a flow with your writing. To feel like you can't get it out fast enough. It's a very powerful experience and one that is easily disrupted with a computer.
Suggestion #2: Date your entries - include the month, date, and year
My students always chuckle when I tell them they won't remember writing a journal entry just a couple days ago. They will remember sitting down to write, but will read the content and be surprised. No recollection of it coming out that way. This happens all the time! Date your entries so you can at least remember when you wrote something. It's also fun to see themes develop during different times of the year or even in your life. From birthday to birthday or from anniversary to anniversary.
Suggestion #3: Keep what you write
Keep your journals - no matter what. You can do what you wish with them. I've had students bury them, burn them, mail them, and store them. I encourage you to hold onto them. Your journals are a piece of you! They are your stories and your thoughts. Your big ideas and your silly adventures. They help you document your life - the action and the emotion of it all. Even the hard stuff is worth holding onto. You don't have to re-read them ever again if you don't want to. You can also read them like book some day. In which case you'l find yourself laughing, crying, and even dumbfounded by some of your experiences. Even though you are the only one living your life - it's easy to forget all that's happened.
Suggestion #4: Dedicate your journal & write a closure
Use the first page to dedicate your journal - it doesn't have to be anything formal, but I like to write the date I start the journal, as well as some instructions. If something were to happen to your journal and it was separated from you what do you want done with it? Mailed to you? Thrown out? Burned? Leave a note about what to do with it. You can see the first page of my journal to the right there.
When you finish a journal give it some closure. I write the date I ended, some words to sum up the themes in the journal, and how I feel moving on from that journal.
Suggestion #5: Keep your journal private
Your journal is a sacred space and all your own. Don't ever let someone guilt you into reading it. Ever. It's hard to let yourself spill out into a journal when you fear someone else's eyes reading your pages. If you want someone to read what you've written, give them permission for that particular entry. But it doesn't warrant them to read the whole journal. I think it's incredibly important to have a safe space in your life where you can let it all hang out. The good, the bad, the not so pretty. Your journal is the perfect place for all of this but only when you know it won't be read by another.
Happy journal writing! -Andrea
P.S. If you live in Portland join me starting in September for my monthly women's journal group. Every first Thursday! Details & Registration here.